Saturday, May 23, 2020

Memorial Day 1920


On Memorial Day, one hundred years ago, May, 1920, a flag stood over the graves in Lawrenceville Cemetery of every man who had served our country.  A large quantity of flowers was collected and then placed on these graves by a band of small children during the town- wide ceremonies. There was a  memorial in front of the courthouse bearing the names of the men from this county who gave their lives in the late war (WWI), some of whose graves are beyond the seas where they fell in the discharge of their duties.

Flower bouquets were brought to the courthouse where they were cared for properly until they were placed on the graves.  There was a parade from the courthouse led by the color guard, a band, the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) members in motor cars, then the Spanish War veterans and American Legion members followed by the children. All were invited to attend.

Friday, May 22, 2020

First National Bank of Lawrenceville 1900-1920


The History Center is located in what was once the First National Bank of Lawrenceville.  

The First National Bank of Lawrenceville rounded out twenty years as an incorporated institution and entered upon its 21st year, May 4, 1920.  The record of Lawrenceville’s then oldest bank was one equaled by few banks in this section of country.

Started as a private bank by P. W. Barnes and John Will McCleave, the business increased until Mr. McCleave was unable to give it proper attention and the Lawrenceville Bank passed into the hands of F. W. Keller & Co. in 1897.

In 1900, the bank was changed to a national bank and the first board of directors was composed of Geo. W. Whittaker, Philip W. Barnes, Chas. J. Borden, Chas. F. Breen, and F. W. Keller.  The board organized by electing P. W. Barnes, president; Geo. M. Whittaker, vice president; F. W. Keller cashier; and W. S. Titus, assistant cashier.  This organization had charge during the change from a private to a national bank with the understanding that a new board would be elected as soon as things were running smoothly. 

This was done on January 1, 1901, when Geo. M. Whittaker was elected president and C. F. Breen, Vice President.  In December of the same year, Mr. Breen retired from the vice presidency to organize another bank and A. L. Maxwell was elected to fill the vacancy.

This organization continued until Mr. Whittaker was forced to resign on account of the weight of advancing years, and on October 7, 1905, F. W. Keller was elected president; A. L. Maxwell, vice-president, and W. S. Titus, cashier.   

It is interesting to note the increase in business during the twenty years.  In 1900, the resources of the bank were $108,000 and the loans $40,500.  In 1920, the resources are $825,000 and the loans $475,000. And it might be mentioned in passing, that the First National Bank never ceased to loan money in reasonable amounts regardless of the financial condition of the country due to panics or other causes.  So far as known, it was the only bank in this section of Illinois or Indiana that had such a record.

The cash dividends declared by the bank during those twenty years, amounted to $120,000.  The officers of the bank in 1920 were F. W. Keller, president; A. L. Maxwell, vice president; Edna E. Thorn, Cashier; R. M. Rainwater, assistant cashier; Florence Sutfin, bookkeeper; and Karl Glover, clerk.

During that time, the board of directors purchased the building adjoining the bank on the north side and contemplated a more modern banking building, one in keeping with the age and stability of the institution. (Those of you who have taken a tour of the upstairs at the Center can see where the two buildings have been joined.)


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ben Yosowitz and Family


Good lines of merchandise were always been stocked by Yosowitz Men's Clothing store on the Square in Lawrenceville and the store was at all times a credit to the city of Lawrenceville. But who was the family who started and continued the store? 

In January 1912, Ben Yosowitz and Lillian Berkowitz were married by Rabbi Fowler in Terre Haute.  But a year later in February Lillian was granted a divorce and Ben was ordered to pay her $400 as alimony. In 1914, Ben returned to his homeland and married his sweetheart, Jennie Prizant who had been born in Czechoslovakia, on January 1, 1894. Jennie became a great help in the store and, as soon as their three boys Mandell, Joseph, and Morris, were large enough, they also did their bit toward making a success of the business. Mandell remained associated with his father in the business; Joseph founded and operated Joseph’s, a ladies’ ready-to-wear business in Vincennes for 44 years; and Morris was in the shoe business in Arizona.

Ben and Jennie Yosowitz purchased a lovely home on 709 E. Jefferson St. in 1947 and had it completely remodeled and redecorating before the family moved.  A full basement was added; the first floor contained a large living room, sun parlor, dining room, kitchen with dinette area, two bedrooms and a bath.  They had previously lived at 607 North 13th St.   Ben suffered a heart attack in November 1949, but recovered and continued to work.  He died August 16, 1975, and Jennie died November 14, 1976.

Mandell Yosowitz was born December 19, 1914, and attended LTHS entering first, University of Illinois, and later, graduating from DePaul University as a music major in 1937.  He was an excellent violinist and vocal soloist. He began teaching at the high school at Raceland, Greenup County, Kentucky, where he was in charge of the band and taught music.  He was also the Boy Scout master in that county.  In 1941, he accepted a position as head of the music department in the Williamson High School in West Virginia, but the school year was to be cut short for Mandell.

The stores of Hyman Frockt and Ben Yosowitz closed every year to celebrate their Jewish heritage. When WWII began, it was only natural for the two oldest Yosowitz boys to enlist.

Mandell enlisted on December 12, 1941 and was sent to Indianapolis; he was soon sent to training school for the Army Air Corps and later, sent overseas.  While in North Africa, a major from his outfit called his parents to inform them of his welfare, praising him highly for his conduct. In 1945, under the Adjusted Service Rating Plan S/Sgt. Yosowitz had amassed sufficient points to warrant being shipped back to the United States for a discharge.  On October 6, he was on board the SS William M. Evarts that left Suez, Egypt heading for the homeland.  He had been overseas for 34 months and during the latter part of this period was assigned to the 19th Weather Squadron. 

Mandell married Norma Sager, August 10, 1952, in Piggott, Arkansas, and the couple had two daughters. Norma was the daughter of Roy and Mary Sager of Lawrenceville; she had graduated from Welborn College of Nursing just a few days earlier, on August 1, 1952. She worked as a nurse at the Lawrence County Memorial Hospital before retiring as well as working for Dr. Pace and Dr. Cullison in their medical practices. Mandell continued to work with his father, eventually taking over the business completely. In 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Mandell Yosowitz and their daughters resided at 1010 22nd St. in Lawrenceville. Norma died June 5, 2008, at age 81 yrs. Mandell had preceded her in death, August 14, 2007.

S/Sgt Morris Yosowitz, the son of Ben and Jennie, also served in WWII, receiving a blue citation ribbon with the oak leaf cluster, a good conduct medal and a campaign medal with two battle stars on it. He had enlisted in Indianapolis and then been assigned for training for a clerical technician course at Ft Logan in Colorado because of the unusually high marks made on his examinations. Later in 1942, he was transferred to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where he worked in the Squadron Orderly room as correspondence and file clerk.  He received his promotion to sergeant on October 4, 1942.

Morris was stationed in Sicily during 1944 but also saw service in Africa, Italy, and France in his two years of service overseas.  Returning stateside, in November 1944, he was assigned to an South Carolina Army hospital for a short time where he was under observation and then he returned to Lawrenceville on furlough. On February 8, 1945, he was given an honorable discharge for medical reasons.

After the war, in January, 1949, Mandel drove him to Phoenix, Arizona for the balance of the winter as he has been in ill health.  Morris married Marilyn Freyer on January 8, 1950, and the couple resided at 901 12th Lawrenceville. He worked with his father and brother, Mandell, in the Lawrenceville store until finally moving to Arizona permanently.  

The third brother, Joseph was born April 1, 1916, in Lawrence County and graduated from LTHS with the class of 1932. Joseph started a women’s wear store in Vincennes in 1934, at 214 Main Street. Joseph’s as it was known, was considered one of Vincennes “smartest shops”.He married Sally Maurer and the couple had four children, the two sons being doctors.  Dr. Edward E. Yosowitz of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston was mentioned in the 1974 July issue of the Saturday Evening Post, for having developed a device which would aid women who had difficulty carrying a child to full term. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Yosowitz Store on the North Side of the Square


The Yosowitz men’s Furnishings store is believed to have been in continuous operation in the same location on the courthouse square longer than any other business operated by the same family. Until his death, Mandell Yosowitz, son of Ben N. Yosowitz, operated the men’s clothing and shoe store which his father had opened in that location in 1920.  (In 1952, the record was surpassed by only one other business, that of Harry Glover who succeeded his father George W. Glover. Mandell Yosowitz, son of Ben N. Yosowitz, operated the men’s clothing and shoe store which his father opened in location on the north side of the square in 1920.

Ben Yosowitz was born in Czechoslovakia January 15, 1888, to Hyman and Leah Yosowitz. Like many other immigrants to America in the early twentieth century he arrived with a skill but without much in the way of finances. He was just sixteen when he arrived in Cleveland, Ohio. He came to Lawrenceville during the oil boom in 1907 or ‘08. He soon found a job in P B McCullough’s clothing store as an alteration man.  While working in the shop he received ten dollars a week salary and one-half of all the profit from the clothes cleaned in the shop, one- half of any alterations he made on his own time, and 10 percent of all the suits he made.  With this arrangement, he often made more money than the store manager. 

Ben had many friends among the oil field workers and the men working on the construction of the Indian Refinery.  He decided that if he could make more money than the manager of the clothing store on his commissions why couldn’t he make more money with his own shop especially since there was only one other tailor in town. 

It wasn’t very long until Benny, as he was then called, made his dream a reality. In 1910, Benny moved to an upstairs room of a building on 13th and State Street, directly across from the History Center, cleaning and pressing and making tailor suits. His store inventory consisted of $10, a big tailoring iron known as a goose, a secondhand sewing machine, his thimble and needles, and a few spools of thread.   His many friends patronized him and his business grew.   After six weeks, he opened a small tailor shop in a building located where the parking lot is now across from New Leaf.
He soon added a few items of men’s wear to sell such as ready-made Oshkosh overalls that he sold for 75 cents a pair. By offering good service and quality merchandise his business kept growing and in 1912, he moved to the old post office location on 12th street, then in 1918, to the building where later the was Oil Worker’s International Union was located, and finally in May, 1920 to the North side of the square where the business remained until it closed.

In those early days, the stock of merchandise was small. Ben Yosowitz said in an interview, “I sold out completely every Saturday.” When asked where he got the money to enlarge his stock, he said, “I went across the street and borrowed $200 from Mr. Breen of the Citizens Bank. It wasn't much, but by watching carefully, I was able to add more and more merchandise.” The store soon became famous for Society brand Clothes, Stetson Hats, Manhattan Shirts and Bostonian Shoes.  To accommodate the lady shoppers, Yosowitz added several better lines of footwear in 1928.

In May 1920, Max Yosowitz closed the deal for the business building owned by D. L. Ward at 1109 State Street. The selling price was $7000 and possession would begin on July 1.  The building had been occupied previously by W. F. Cunningham as a restaurant but was to be remodeled with a modern glass front, the rear of the building extended to the alley, and a steel ceiling installed to accommodate his son’s stock of clothing and gentlemen’s furnishings.   The opening date was to be about August 1. The building interior was remodeled again in 1929, and in 1952, it received an entirely new glass front and all new fixtures. However, the most talked about change in the building locally was in 1948, when Ben had air conditioning installed, a new concept for Lawrenceville merchants.   

While the many employees that worked in the Yosowitz store over the years are mostly unknown, a few were mentioned in the newspapers of the time. Mr. F. L. Orr was the Sales Manager in December 1920. Miss Bertine Maxwell was the bookkeeper for the Yosowitz clothing store in 1930, and in 1935, Miss Cornelia Phillippe resigned as bookkeeper to marry Eugene Gray of Bridgeport.

Tomorrow more about the Yosowitz family...

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Leslie L Miles, WWI Farrier Part 2


Leslie L Miles settled into community life, farming in Bond Township after world War I.  In 1923, he was elected to the Board of Illinois Dairymen’s Association.  To earn some extra money in 1924, he was employed by the Vincennes Bridge Co helping construct the new bridge over the Embarrass River at Fifteenth St.  There he met with an accident that resulted in the loss of two toes on his left foot. He had been engaged in moving a five-ton engine using gas pipes as rollers, when his foot was caught under one of the rollers, necessitating amputation by Dr. Trueblood of the third and fourth toes. 

June 15 1933
Leslie married Maude Sprenger about 1926.  She became a charter member of the Lawrence County Home Extension and the couple had two children.  Leslie became a field manager for the Rich-Law Oil Co. in 1932, and in 1933, the couple visited the World’s Fair in Chicago. For several years he was superintendent of the Lawrence County Fair, Cattle division. 

 In January, 1936, the family moved to Lawrenceville when Leslie became manager of the Rich-Law Service company. This job led to a promotion as manager of Rich-Law in Danville, Illinois, where he supervised eleven salesmen. The family lived in Danville for three years before moving back to Lawrence County.


Leslie went back to the thing he loved best, farming on Twin Pine Farm. In 1942, his herd of nine Jersey cows ranked first in the Wabash Valley Testing Association with a herd average of 46.8 pounds of butter fat for the month of July, 1942.  The state average was 29.8 pounds.  One of his cows had a record of 64 pounds of butterfat for that month, equivalent to 80 pounds of churned butter.

A movie was even made about Leslie’s farm in 1945.  A representative of the Case Manufacturing Company of Racine, Wisconsin spent a few days there making “moving pictures of terraces, the herd of Jersey cattle and the new lake being constructed on this farm.”  In 1947, Leslie was elected to the Farm Bureau Board of Directors representing Bond Township, a position he took very seriously.  

In 1950, Leslie won the distinction of being first farmer in Lawrence Wabash County Health area to produce milk which met the specifications of the Grade A Milk ordinance.  He had converted his barn into a clean and airy milking room. The milk house itself was separated from the barn by a vestibule with doors, and provided with an electric cooler and a hot water heater.  Milking utensils were properly sanitized through the use of hot water, detergents and chlorine compounds in a two-compartment vat. 

Leslie was always interested in the newest farm practices. The first time that erosion netting was used in Lawrence County was on his farm in Bond Township, October, 1967.  A gully on the farm had, over the years, become uncrossable, full of trees and brush, and generally unproductive. Leslie applied to the Lawrence County ASC office for cost-share assistance and asked for technical help to make a drainage way that could be crossed with farm machinery and be maintained by mowing.

Leslie never forgot his past. In 1961, he was elected quartermaster for the Third District, Department of Illinois Veterans of WWI.  Others in Lawrence County Barracks, # 681 were George Sechrest, Harley Seeds, Henry Grigsby, and Ora Shulaw.  Later Leslie became the District Commander.  

Lawrenceville Cemetery-- Leslie L Miles
Photo by K Borden
Another part of his past Leslie returned to pursue in later life, was his love for horses. He began raising Standard bred race horses. He and his son, Oren, had at least one stallion who was one of the leading percentage sires in the U.S. plus several mares. 

Leslie L. Miles died, December 17, 1970 at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville survived by his wife and children. Burial was in the Lawrenceville City cemetery.

( Ed Note Click on Interview  by a veteran of the Vet Corps with National Archive video footage.  Warning: the treatment and condition of the animals described during the war is quite distressing.)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Leslie L Miles, WWI Farrier Part 1


Classified ad in the Lawrence County News: May 12, 1920, Lost:  Will the person who found my pocketbook on May 4 lost between the M. H. Steffey farm and Pinkstaff containing a few dollars and some papers with my name and address on, please keep the money and return pocketbook to owner.  It is a souvenir as I carried it through the war.  Leslie L. Miles RFD 3, Lawrenceville.

Who was this man who was so sentimental about the wallet he carried during WWI? Leslie Lee Miles born March 14, 1895, to Charles and Margaret Payne Miles of Bond Township. From all accounts he was a good boy who excelled at any task set before him.  In October of 1905, while only ten years old, he entered and won a premium at the Farmer’s Institute for a Boys Exhibit of Corn that he had raised.  

While attending the neighborhood rural school only one incident marred Leslie’s school days. On December 31, 1908, his father, filed a complaint again Talmage Petty, the teacher at Maple Grove.  Two weeks prior, Petty had whipped twelve-year old Leslie for disobedience to the teacher’s orders.  The whipping was done with two switches that left marks on the boy’s legs.  The boy claimed he did not understand the order given while the teacher maintained he did.  The first jury could not agree on a verdict and a new trial was set.  The second jury was given the case and after due deliberation, failed to agree once again. The case was dismissed.   Leslie went on to attend school in Carbondale but he became ill with typhoid fever in November of 1912, and had to return home.  

Leslie was liked by all. In July, 1918, he left for Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, to begin his service in the Army. Two nights before he left, rain had delayed his farm work. He had been anxious to get the hay in the barn and had worked too hard, being overcome with heat and suffering a severe headache. Retiring early, he was unexpectedly awakened by eighty of his friends and neighbors who had planned a farewell social in his honor.  There were refreshments of chicken sandwiches, pickles, ice cream and cake among other foods and hearty handshaking with their best wishes and good luck before the night was over.

Two months later, August 28, 1918, C. H. Miles received word from his son that he was in the Veterinary Training School at Camp Lee, Virginia and training for services as a non-commissioned officer. The Camp Lee Veterinary Training School was in active operation from April 12, 1918, to November 11, 1918, with the purpose of organizing, equipping, and training oversea veterinary units to assist with the large number of mules and horses used in World War I.  

A year later this well-liked veteran was home. Leslie’s homecoming was described in a local newspaper.

September 18, 1919 “The home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Miles of Bond was the scene of a remarkable gathering Sunday.  Their son, Leslie Miles, had just returned from service overseas.  The friends and neighbors in the number of 259 bearing baskets filled to the brim and a world of food-cheer gathered to spend the day.  At the dinner hour a table 31-foot long was loaded down with good things to eat.  Around that table gathered his friends and ate until they groaned with fullness. It was filed up with more good things to eat and another set of people set down to eat.  A third time this was repeated and all were filled and some baskets were yet unopened.  To get some idea of that feast think of 50 big cakes, then think of chickens, sweet potatoes, salads, pies, jellies and literally everything you might mention even to roasts of different sorts.  It was a frequent remark that there would be a shortage of chickens in Bond following that dinner. Then there was ice cream for all.
     “But the grub was not all there was to enjoy. Leslie was glad to get home and glad to see everybody.  His handshake and smile were of that genial kind that spread out through the crowd and became contagious. His parents had it too, and were extending the same genial whole-souled welcome so that it was a time never to be forgotten.  The returned soldier had a lot of souvenirs from the battle field, coins of foreign countries and 100 photographs of interesting places, battle fields, etc. that all enjoyed looking at.”

Continued tomorrow

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Good Time in Lawrenceville


May 1920 
A couple of Vincennes people created a little excitement on the streets of Lawrenceville early Thursday morning.  

It seems to be the custom for a bunch of Vincennes men and women to fill up on bad liquor and come to the weekly Wednesday night dances in this city.  

Apparently, the husband of a certain woman objected to her presence and waited for her last week. He found her at the corner of State and Eleventh streets about 2 o’clock Thursday morning, jumped out of a car and knocked her down after which he proceeded to kick her a few times. 

The woman screamed and the man jumped back in the car and the driver started toward Vincennes, but when the car was stopped at the Wabash bridge the man was not to be found.  The woman was picked up by another car and taken to her home. 

These joy ride parties from Vincennes are getting to be very monotonous to Lawrenceville people and the police have decided it is time to discontinue the practice of coming here to have a good time. 

(There are so many comments I could make to the last seven words in that last sentence, I am just not going to go there.)